How many of us run purely to get better at running? My guess is, very few. Of course there are reasons beyond counting for taking to the roads or trails, but surely most regular runners run just because it’s such a satisfying thing to do. Getting ready for the next race is, for me at least, an optional extra.
Autumn in Ireland is a wonderful time to be a runner. Sure, there can be days on which the rain threatens to dampen our spirits, but there are so many more when the leaf-strewn pathways and yellow sunlight invite us to enjoy some precious time on the road. My non-running friends don’t understand this process. Why would I head out for a run at lunchtime, when I could relax in the canteen or go for a gentle stroll in the fresh air? If they could join me for just one day, to run some quiet miles in good company and kick some leaves along quiet roads, they might understand why.
I know too that, sometimes, even runners can lose sight of this simple stuff. With autumn marathons fast approaching, we can feel drawn to training schedules, mileage figures and dreams of fast finishing times. When we take a second to think though, most of us know in our hearts that the real rewards are to be found on the journey rather than at the destination. We should relish each step along the way.
I was born and raised in Dublin’s fair city, but have lived in the ‘country’ for the last ten years and both can be wonderful places to run, in their own unique way. During the last week I’ve seen deer, rabbits and a fox ‘on the run’ in Galway. When I lived in Dublin the perspective was completely different but no less satisfying. Sure, there were times when I had to dodge around the hoodies at the bus stop and smile grimly at the ‘Run Forrest Run’ merchants, but even in midst of the ‘smoke’ there is peace to be found on the road if you look for it.
These are the days to run with our eyes open and with an inner smile on those days that we can find one. These are the days when we can find some rhythm for our soul, some quietness and some real satisfaction. Like many other treasures, all we need to do to find them is to decide to find them.